Poutine suffers in Vladimir’s shadow

“I lost 35 to 50% of my turnover on the product. The product is the famous Quebec poutine. These words are those that Christophe Fiegans. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, which has seen the forces of Volodymyr Zelensky opposing those of the Russian Vladimir Poutine, the manager and creator of the Poutinistes in Strasbourg has seen his flagship dish being shunned by his clientele.

On the side of Frituur, his take-out point opened four years ago where the clientele is mainly students, poutine was all the rage. “It was an immediate success, remembers Christophe Fiegans, then an expert in Belgian fries who had wanted to diversify his offer. In 2019, poutine became a bit fashionable among young working people, among students returning from Quebec or on social networks. »

“We had a violent return, like Nazi salutes”

But here it is, potato tra (do you have it?). The war in Ukraine thwarts fresh success. “At the start, as we were mainly on delivery, we added a little emoticon after the word poutine, the Canadian flag, but without further communication,” admits Christophe Fiegans. The emoji will not have been used: the Poutinists quickly receive derogatory remarks on the delivery platforms and on the social networks on which their card is located. Then, at the Eurockéennes or the Colmar wine fair, things went downhill. “We really had a negative return, sometimes violent, like Nazi salutes. One person even told us that we had to add ”SS” after the word ”poutine”, even if the majority of people to whom we gave explanations understood”, recalls the restaurateur.

The poutine dislike continues. To the war in Ukraine, was certainly added the decline in purchasing power, recognizes the Strasbourg resident who notes all the same that the fries, it keeps the fishing. And Christophe Fiegans is not the only one to suffer the strange collateral damage of the war in Ukraine. Further south, a restaurateur who usually offered pizzas in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and who had decided to also serve poutine, had to give up after complaints. The owner of the establishment was constantly harassed on Facebook and overwhelmed by emails of criticism.

“The police came by recommending us to be vigilant”

On the side of Brittany, on the other hand, fewer problems. Established in downtown Nantes for almost two years, Le Comptoir à Poutine ensures that it will continue its activity without batting an eyelid. Sometimes wiping a few unpleasant remarks. “At the beginning of the conflict, the police had recommended that we be vigilant, remembers Magali, manager of the business. The main comment I remember came from an elderly person who told us that it was a shame to call the restaurant that. When we told her it was a reference to a Quebec dish, she didn’t believe us. “And the manager to continue:” We would probably have more worries if we had not put a sign in front of the window marked “Quebec poutine”. »

In Rennes, at the Poutine Bros restaurant, which last year received the prize for the second best poutine in the world (outside Canada), business continues to roll. “We haven’t seen the number of customers drop, it’s still going very well, assures one of the employees. We sometimes have passersby who ask us if we have a link with Russia. We calmly explain to them that no and it goes well. Less luck therefore in Strasbourg, where our Christophe Fiegans now offers a new version of his poutine called “very bad fries”, a recipe very close to the Quebec classic with its friendly “couic couic” cheese curds.

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